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IRS Tax Map 2008
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taxmap/pubs/p526-004.htm#en_us_publink1000229790

When To Deduct(p13)


rule
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You can deduct your contributions only in the year you actually make them in cash or other property (or in a succeeding carryover year, as explained under How To Figure Your Deduction When Limits Apply, later). This applies whether you use the cash or an accrual method of accounting.
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Time of making contribution.(p13)


rule
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Usually, you make a contribution at the time of its unconditional delivery.
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Checks.(p13)
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A check that you mail to a charity is considered delivered on the date you mail it.
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Credit card.(p13)
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Contributions charged on your bank credit card are deductible in the year you make the charge.
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Pay-by-phone account.(p13)
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If you use a pay-by-phone account, the date you make a contribution is the date the financial institution pays the amount. This date should be shown on the statement the financial institution sends to you.
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Stock certificate.(p13)
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The gift to a charity of a properly endorsed stock certificate is completed on the date of mailing or other delivery to the charity or to the charity's agent. However, if you give a stock certificate to your agent or to the issuing corporation for transfer to the name of the charity, your gift is not completed until the date the stock is transferred on the books of the corporation.
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Promissory note.(p13)
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If you issue and deliver a promissory note to a charitable organization as a contribution, it is not a contribution until you make the note payments.
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Option.(p13)
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If you grant an option to buy real property at a bargain price to a charitable organization, you cannot take a deduction until the organization exercises the option.
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Borrowed funds.(p13)
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If you make a contribution with borrowed funds, you can deduct the contribution in the year you make it, regardless of when you repay the loan.
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Conditional gift.(p13)
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If your contribution is a conditional gift that depends on a future act or event that may not take place, you cannot take a deduction. But if there is only a negligible chance that the act or event will not take place, you can take a deduction.
If your contribution would be undone by a later act or event, you cannot take a deduction. But if there is only a negligible chance the act or event will take place, you can take a deduction.
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Example 1.(p13)

You donate cash to a local school board, which is a political subdivision of a state, to help build a school gym. The school board will refund the money to you if it does not collect enough to build the gym. You cannot deduct your gift as a charitable contribution until there is no chance of a refund.
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Example 2.(p13)

You donate land to a city for as long as the city uses it for a public park. The city does plan to use the land for a park, and there is no chance (or only a negligible chance) of the land being used for any different purpose. You can deduct your charitable contribution.